|Henry in front of his cafe, courtesy of Daily Telegraph |
The Jakarta Globe, who started the chain reaction with their concerns on ethics when doing featured article on this cafe, three days later pronounced that the cafe is now closed down amid the media criticism. It happens because since the concern was first published by The Jakarga Globe on 16 July, The Soldatenkaffee Bandung has sparked international interest all the way to Europe.
A perspective issueReviewing this case, what came into my mind is a scene from this famous movie, that sets a new standard for food-themed movies, Ratatouille:
"Yes, I think I do. After reading a lot of overheated puffery about your new cook, you know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?" ~Anton Ego, Ratatouille (2007)Align with the sinister Anton Ego's quote, I think what missing from The Soldatenkaffee is perspective; while it's true that people resonates differently with Nazi and Holocaust issue, some even suspect that it never happened, and Henry himself likes only the visualization part of the Nazi regime; however what he's dealing in this case is not about truth, or his opinion, but about people's perspective, and it's beyond his reach or power to influence.
While in the past the only audience The Soldatenkaffee exposed to are limited to its guests, and they don't really matter with Nazi and Hitler related memorabilia since there's a big chance those knowing this place are those already attracted by the same thing; things were pretty quiet.
I mean I get in touch with Jakarta and Bandung foodies regularly, but never they brought up a discussion about this unique cafe, while The Soldatenkaffee itself has been around since 2011. I didn't even know they exist before the Jakarta Globe's coverage article.
|Henry inside his cafe, courtesy of The Jakarta Globe |
Internationally Nazi regime is still considered as one of the darkest page in human's history, and it won't change with a cafe bringing fresh perspective on Nazi's uniform coolness. Henry bringing Soeharto's Orde Baru into the picture too, as comparison on how dictatorship could be seen from different view, is a justification only good for himself but is not valid enough to shift international perspective.
According to Australia's Daily Telegraph, the news about the cafe has even sparked outrage among Jewish communities in other parts of the world.
"The Simon Wiesenthal Center is reaching out to senior Indonesian diplomats to express on behalf of our 400,000 members and victims of the Nazi Holocaust our outrage and disgust," Rabbi Abraham Cooper, from the Los Angeles-based Jewish human rights group, told AFP by email. "We expect that all appropriate measures will be taken to close down this business celebrating a genocidal ideology that at its core denigrates people of colour and all non-Aryans," he wrote. Since the international coverage then alarmed the Bandung authorities, Henry and The Soldatenkaffee found himself not only dealing with international audience, but also with a small group of audience powerful enough to decide his cafe's fate; Indonesian government.
Judging by how Indonesian Government tend to play it safe especially with international audience, there's a big chance they will adhere to the international perspective into condemning Nazi regime; making the odds really shifted against the The Soldatenkaffee.
Finding refuge in BaliHowever we might not be seeing the end of Henry and The Soldatenkaffee, as Henry did expect this sort of thing into happen, and during his interview with The Daily Telegraph he mentioned to have another cafe to be build in Bali.
“I realized that displaying the Nazi symbol was going to spark some controversy, but I decided to go for it because I don’t feel I’m violating any laws,” 
"I'll certainly display Hitler's image, as well as Winston Churchill's, and paraphernalia from American and Japanese soldiers from World War II" The question is: will Bali's big pluralism heart welcomes Henry and The SoldatenKaffee, along with its perspective issue? (byms)